Wang Yiwei says the EU’s policy towards China is commercial rather than strategic, and I arrived at the same conclusion in the ECFR Scorecard. The two EU–China summits in 2012 had little strategic impact because EU member states were putting much more energy into their own bi-lateral commercial relations.
The reality is that there is a growing proliferation of EU member states’ bi-lateral strategic partnerships with China - with Ireland being the latest to crown itself with one of these "strategic partnerships". The closest of these bi-lateral relationships is with Germany; Chancellor Angela Merkel visited China twice last year, one of these visits was part of a so-called government-to-government consultation in August
Hassan Rohani, a moderate cleric, just won Iran's 11th presidential elections. The result is a surprise and marks the end of the eight-year chapter of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government. Scooping 50.71 percent of votes and an absolute majority, Rohani burst through in the first round despite predictions the vote would go to a run-off on 21 June. He is not that well known in Iran. But his profile improved dramatically when Mohammad Reza Aref - the only other reformist candidate permitted to run by Iran's religious leaders - withdrew. Former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani also endorsed Rohani, prompting a surge in popular support just 72 hours before the end of campaigning. By contrast, Rohani's main rivals, the so-called Principalist front, failed to coalesce behind a single name. Rohani got three times as many votes as his nearest competitor,
The extraordinary case of Edward Snowden marks a watershed. The young employee of an NSA subcontractor in Hawaii has begun to leak information through the Guardian on how the U.S. government snoops on the entire world with the help of the web’s best known industry names. That Snowden has sought abode in Hong Kong is an additional irony, of course. Ever since the 19th century Hong Kong has provided refuge for free-thinkers and dissidents fleeing the Qing Dynasty or its successors in mainland China. But that Hong Kong's legal autonomy will now be tested in a case involving the United States is completely unexpected.
But those who see a plot – the man would be in cahoots with China’s secret services – had better wait for evidence. Even though Snowden’s purported revelations are a golden egg for Beijing, which so far was on the defensive on cyberwar issues, the PRC does not have a
Ministers from France, Germany, and Italy are expected to meet in Rome this week to tackle youth unemployment and introduce reforms to relaunch growth and competitiveness. What is at stake is the European project. The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, described it as a "battle for Europe's unity", and warned that a revolution might occur if Europe's welfare model is abandoned. Joblessness is an emergency and it is good sign that it is on top of the agenda of the next European Council (to be held end of June). President Van Rompuy acknowledged  that the number of unemployed people in the Union, especially of the unemployed young, is at record levels. At last, European leaders are addressing social issues alongside economic ones.
The European Commission has proposed a series of measures in the framework of the Youth Employment Package: the European Alliance for
A year from now, at the end of May 2014, a new European Parliament will be elected. Before that, in September, the Germans will vote - deciding to keep or eject Angela Merkel, and the make-up of the governing coalition.
ECFR is using this opportunity to launch a new series on our blog – the “Berlin Notebook.” The idea is not only to follow the elections closely from Berlin, and deal with the various questions it throws up, but also to observe the shifts and changes within the new German government in the months ahead of the EP elections. This should help us understand whether or not the year 2014 will be a tipping point; whether or not it becomes the moment when Europe reconciles itself with its citizens, gets serious about integration, starts building a fully-fledged European democracy, and overcomes some old fashioned notions of sovereignty and nationalism.
Looking back, the
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